On 15th of March Lithuanian Parliament confirmed their new agenda which lists 5 initiatives seeking to restrict LGBT* persons’ human rights once again.
The proposal to change article 38 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania is of discriminatory nature and first registered at Seimas by the end of the year 2013. This amendment redefines the constitutionally protected concept of “family life” as emanating from traditional marriage between a man and a woman and stipulates that family arises from motherhood and fatherhood.
There are also amendments to the Law on the Fundamentals of Protection of the Rights of the Child and the Civil Code on the abovementioned agenda. It stipulates that “every child has the natural right to a father and a mother, emanating from sex differences and mutual compatibility between motherhood and fatherhood”.
One more threatening amendment can be found on the agenda – a draft amendment to the Criminal Code which seeks to establish that the criticism of homosexuality and attempts to change one’s sexual orientation would not be qualified as discrimination or harassment on the grounds of sexual orientation. Such changes would be extremely important to the Lithuanian society where, according to the data of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, LGBT people experience hate speech the most in Europe, especially expressed by the politicians.
Even though Lithuania lost a case against L. in European Court of Human Rights, the country does not rush to the implementation of this international commitment regarding the protection of the rights of transgender people. With one of the Civil Code amendments the members of the Lithuanian Parliament seek to ban the opportunity of gender reassignment in Lithuania and legalize the vicious practice when civil status records can be amended only after the sex change surgery abroad.
On the other hand, we see a positive change that some of previous homophobic and transphobic initiatives which were discussed in the earlier sessions of Seimas, are not included on this agenda. One of them, proposed by the Parliamentarian Petras Gražulis, suggested to amend the article 26 of the Law on the Fundamentals of Protection of the Rights of the Child with a ban for the same sex couples to adopt the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania. One more suggestion of the abovementioned politician was not included on the agenda of Seimas spring session of 2016 – a draft amendment to the Code of Administrative Violations introducing administrative liability for any public defiance of the constitutionally established family values. According to such law, one would thus act against it, simply by carrying out public speeches, demonstrating goods, posters, slogans and audio-visual materials, as well organizing public events such as gay prides and other kind of actions. It is explained that this proposal is necessary to ensure heterosexual people from discrimination that they face during the LGBT* community events. It is important to mention that only one approval is needed to legislate this project, although it is being postponed since the March of 2014.
Even though most homophobic and transphobic initiatives usually are postponed and delayed or returned to be improved, the creation and consideration of these amendments itself creates hostile atmosphere for Lithuania’s LGBT* people and demonstrates disrespect towards LGBT* human rights.
The National LGBT rights organization LGL expresses deep concern regarding the initiatives which seek to limit the fundamental human rights of LGBT* people in Lithuania. The association LGL hopes that the members of the Parliament will prevent similar discriminative initiatives and will ensure all rights and freedoms for everyone in Lithuania despite sexual orientation and/or gender identity.